Sunday, 22 April 2012

On scars and healing

One of the first things I googled about liver transplants after having mine was scars.  I wanted to know how long it would take to heal and fade and not look so dreadfully hideous and bright red and gross.

The photos were very few and far between.  Possibly because most people who have a liver transplant are somewhat older and either not blogging or not all that keen on flashing photos of their stomaches for the world to see.  Luckily, I have no such qualms.  Which is odd, because I certainly can't picture walking around in a bikini any time soon.  Here however, it has a more medical aim.  I want to have a photo up for someone like me, who is still at the bikini point of their lives and who ends up with a big scar and is completely vain and googles it straight away.  Just to show them that it does heal relatively quickly.

I've certainly helped it along with Bio Oil, Vitamin E oil and Dermatix, especially to begin with but over the last month or so I've been a bit slack with applying it.  To begin with I was applying it twice a day most days.  Then after a few months I went to once a day, in the evening and just moisturising it in the morning with Aveeno moisturiser which I use on my whole body after showering anyhow.

I found the vitamin E oil and the dermatix really really sticky and they didn't dry for ages, which was fine if you are just sitting around at home and it's Summer so you can just sit around in your knickers but if it's Winter or you have to go out, it was ruining my clothes.  The bio oil is a lot lighter and soaks in faster but you still need to leave your top off for a while as it soaks into the fabric very quickly.  Which is why I went to just night time applications and have been wearing old daggy pyjammie tops which now all have a very lovely oil stripe down the middle.

It's hard to tell you the effectivitity of each of the three products I applied because I interchanged them all.  The dermatix is quite expensive, $60 for a tube that is about the size of your little finger.  The vitamin E oil I bought was in a little bottle about the same size and only $15 or so.  Bio oil is not too badly priced, I got a big bottle and I'm not even a third of the way through it.  The big bottle was about $40 or $50.

Now obviously everyone scars differently, but it is still nice to know that six months down the track, your scar could look like this.  In fact it could even look better than this, as I've seen one guy in my liver gym class who is one month ahead of me and his scar looked like mine does now at the four month mark. And he is not the type who would have been applying expensive creams and oils to it twice a day.

My scar now, at 6 months and 1 week old.

My belly button has almost returned to normal shape, although it is still a bit squashed at the top and oval-ish when it used to be completely round.  I also have very little feeling around my top half of my belly button and around the cross point of the scar.  I have no sensation of hot or cold there at all.  Quite strange.  My two drain hole scars haven't popped out and become all ropey like it was suspected they would, in fact they are a bit sunken which is just fine by me.  Overall I'm fairly happy with the healing, apart from that ropey part up the top near my boobs.  I hate that part.  The rest of it, well I think I've almost reached the 'proud' point I was aiming for.  To me it is now more of a war wound and a mark of what I have got through and survived rather than a stupid ugly thing. Finally.  MR is still awesome about it, it does not bother him at all.  I think that has helped a lot.  Although, as I mentioned above, I'm still not comfortable with the idea of walking around in a bikini.

My scar at 3 weeks and 4 days old.  The staples had only just come out a few days ago.

So, there you have it.  I'm interested to see what it looks like at the nine month point and the one year mark.  I'm glad I've taken photos along the way because I can't see the difference without looking at the photos.  Before taking this one and looking at the old one I knew it had faded a bit but had forgotten just how red it used to look.  I have hope though.  In that photo above of the scar in its new form, you can see my appendix scar.  It is on the left side of the photo, about 3/4 of a centimetre above my knickers.  It starts about in line with the drain hole mark and goes across about two or three centimetres in the photo, on a slight angle following my knicker line.  Can you see it? I can, just, but only because I know where to look.  Admittedly, that scar is 11 years old, but it's a good sign for the future!


CurlyPops said...

Wow what a difference! It's fading really well. I think it's a great idea to take photos along the way (and I'd love any ongoing tips you have on the scar healing).

I reckon you'd rock a bikini with that washboard stomach!

Baa-Me Kniits said...

Well done Megan! I am sure in the future someone will be awfully grateful that you have documented your progress. It is looking like a pussycats smile now, too cute! :-)

carolyn said...

Megan, your scar looks great for the 6 month mark. Obviously the oils are working. I was very slack with that after my operation, and the application of oil was random at best. Admittedly i didn't worry as much about mine because it is in the same place as a cesarean scar, just twice the size. Mine went through the ropey stage and one doctor even thought it was keloid. In a couple of places the feeling didn't come back for a few years. I put that down to my age and that my healing would be slower. Now, after 6 years, it just looks like an extremely bad stretch mark, white, lumpy and uneven. People will think yours is cool, a hero scar!

2paw said...

That's a fantastic difference, and I can barely see your appendix scar. I think all the oiling has really helped and I am glad you are at home with your fading scars. I am lucky my surgeon put the long scar around my neck in a crease. Luckily I am wrinkly!!! It s very helpful that MR is so supportive and sensible!!!

Michelle said...

It has definately faded, all it shows me is how incredibly brave you are with what you've gone through x

San @ Made in Hem said...

It would give a topic of conversation, you running around town in bikinis! ;)
I think you look great! You're in way better shape than my belly is, still I'm proud of it since it was a home to four lovely children!
I must admit I was a little shocked at first, it is huge... I had no idea a liver transplant went this way. I had some sort of romantic idea of a 5cm scar like an appendix.
I can't wait to see you in 6 months! You rock!!! ♥

Maggie said...

The body has an amazing ability to heal itself. Your scar is healing beautifully. How wonderful you have the confidance to post belly shots!

Amanda said...

Wow, your scar is healing really well and has faded so much!

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natwillsbrg said...

I'm about to have my liver transplant hopefully at the end of this month, or early August. So, I'm very concerned about the scar that's going to be left. I invite you to read my blog, as well,

Also, what are those 2 small scars on your abdomen? Was that from the drain? Or something else? Thanks!